Another unwelcome blistering performance

OK, so I may just have the most unusual feet in Lincolnshire but I may also be simply missing out on some basic information that would make all the difference to my running…

Having run this week in some new trail shoes, and subsequently rubbing off the usually useful skin on the back of both heels, my attention has been turned to what could be my marathon downfall. I have always suffered from foot problems right from the first time I stepped out. From lost nails to blisters, I’ve seen it all. Thankfully my woes are limited to ‘superficial’ injuries and I’ve avoided more serious issues such as plantar fasciitis but this week’s latest injury has got me thinking about my hooves again and wondering what I can do to alleviate my problems. For example:

My biggest concern is blisters. I get blisters every run. Both feet suffer – at the sides of my big toes and top joint of the 1st metatarsal bone.

Blister Zones - Click to Enlarge
Just another day's running - Click to Enlarge but NOT if you don't like manky feet!

So, what’s going on?

Well, I already know that my feet over-pronate – they roll inwards as my feet land and weight it transferred onto them. This is something I discovered some time ago when I had my gait analysed before buying my second pair of running shoes and since then I’ve made sure to buy shoes that match my gait. Currently I am running in Asics GT-2160 – designed for mild over-pronation such as mine.

If my shoes match my gait then what else could be going on?

Research shows that running-related blisters are related to a number of factors:

1) Incorrect shoe fit – if your shoes aren’t wide enough, deep enough and long enough to accommodate your feet then you’re in for trouble. I normally run in size 8.5 shoes – a half size larger than my size 8G feet – and whilst I don’t consider them loose they certainly aren’t tight. The trail shoes I ran in at the weekend are size 8 and are a much snugger fit but again, not too tight. I’ve run in 4 different types of shoe now and my problems have been there regardless of manufacturer. Whilst my shoes fit my gait, I do think my feet are still being allowed to move around inside, so I need to think about how better to restrain them, such as…

2) A lacing technique that holds your feet securely in position. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a “lacing technique”! How difficult can it be?  One shoe, one lace,  You thread it through the holes, tie it up and off you go, right? Wrong! There are many different techniques for lacing up running shoes, each suited to different types of feet. Up until now I’ve never given much thought towards how I lace my shoes, but this has given me something to think about. I usually just step into them, tie them off with a double-knot to make sure they don’t come undone and off I go.

3) Do you kick the heel of your foot back against the running shoe heel before lacing the shoe up? I never have done, but apparently you should. If they’re not laced appropriately too I guess this is doubly asking for trouble.

4) Socks – I’ve run in all kinds of socks and none seem to make a difference. I’ve recently bought some 1000 Mile socks that proudly boasted a Bilster-Free Guarantee and guess what..? Yup, bilsters after about 7 miles. Oh, and Vaseline applied to the affected area doesn’t help me either. My socks are always specifically designed for running and are therefore breathable and absorbent.

5) If your feet sweat profusely, this can increase the chance of blisters. One tip I’ve found for this is to soak them in surgical spirit, or even better apparently, three per cent formaldehyde solution once a day. (Formaldehyde! Really?!) I’ve also heard of soaking in white spirits to toughen them up, although if I’m honest the thought of soaking my feet in anything but water doesn’t sound too appealing to me. I think I do have soft feet and this may well be a factor.

So, there’s more to blisters than I imagined. What is clear is that I can’t continue with my ailment and I certainly don’t want to be thinking about blisters as I clock off the 26.2 miles, so, along with some experimentation with my shoes before the next run, I think a professional opinion from a sports podiatrist would also be a wise investment. It may be that I need to run with orthotic implants – moulded inserts that fit into your shoes – but it might be that a simpler fix is available.

Have you suffered from blisters and found a way to eradicate them? Please post your remedy tips!

Thanks for reading – I really appreciate the support I’m getting 🙂

Simon

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